|Good News - December 2017
“People get ready, Jesus is coming!”
Crystal Lewis sings in her song by the same name. The phrase holds more truth
in this upcoming season than any other part of the year (at least on the
surface of things). Advent is a time of getting ready, of anticipating, of
prepping ourselves to celebrate the day God put skin on.
One Christian tradition that often
accompanies this anticipation is the lighting of the Advent Wreath (for us, the
wreath in front of the pulpit). We build it into the service…consider it
‘lighting the Christ candle’ and ‘call to worship’ rolled together…but like any
other tradition or norm, it can quickly fade into routine. Remember our lesson
from a few weeks ago about worship that becomes rote or routine? God says, “No,
So it’s worth remembering what this
wreath-and-fire call to worship symbolizes. This description comes from the
Worship Sourcebook, a go-to handbook for RCA pastors and worship leaders.
"The lighting of Advent candles
dramatically depicts the growing expectation we have for the coming of Christ,
the light of the world. This action most often functions as a call to worship,
but it can also function as a response to the assurance of pardon or to the
sermon. The traditional Advent wreath has four purple candles (lit on the four Sundays
of Advent) grouped around a white Christ candle (lit on Christmas Day).
The main symbolism portrayed by the wreath is
the growing intensity of light as the candle lighting includes an additional candle
each worship day and as anticipation builds for the celebration of Christ’s
second coming. Some congregations attribute particular meaning to individual
candles, associating them with peace, joy, love, and light; with Mary, Joseph,
the shepherds, and the Magi; or with other related aspects of Christ’s coming.
These associations may be helpful for a congregation at a particular time, but
they are not in any way necessary to a worshipful celebration.
Similarly, a tradition calling for the third
candle to be pink is not especially important. It is based on a medieval
tradition in which the second to last Sunday of Advent (and Lent) accented
Christian joy in the middle of a penitential season." (The Worship
Sourcebook, pp. 432-433)
As the anticipation for Christmas builds, we are
going to camp out in the book of Micah, a prophet whose name means “Who Is Like
God?” (hence the name of the series). Though his words to Israel and Judah may
not feel very “Christmas-y”, they will help set up the reasons Christmas came
Time to get ready!